Advancement in technology has made it possible for even the recreational boaters and fishermen to avoid a collision in the bad weather conditions and still make the best out of their fishing trip. Marine radars were electronic pieces of equipment previously used by only large vessels, but now with their compact design and additional integrated features such as the Automatic Identification System and Electronic GS Chart plotter, it has become a real lifesaver for the recreational boaters and the occasional fishermen.
Having marine radar at your disposal during bad weather conditions always comes in handy, especially when visibility decreases to the minimum. It helps you with navigating safely back to land without colliding into other vessels and objects. It can also be used by fishermen to scan for fishes in the water when visibility is low. So having one isn’t such a bad idea but a great investment.
If you are unsure of what marine radars are or which one to buy for your boat, then not to worry because we are here to rescue you from your confusion. Read through the complete guide below to get a complete understanding of marine radars and the best ones that are available in the market to choose the one that will suit your needs the most and will keep you from getting lost at sea!
What is marine radar?
Radar is actually an acronym used for Radio Detecting and Ranging. It is a piece of electronic equipment that provides you with the actual location of the objects around you at sea. The radar system sends out a single and measures the time that it takes the pulse signal to reflect back to your location from an object in range.
There is no other marine device better than the radars when it comes to providing you with the exact location of an object in your surroundings. The Chartplotter only gives you an estimated location whereas the radar gives you an actual position so that you can avoid collision to the minimum. When it comes to navigation safety, marine radars are the best piece of equipment to invest in.
Types of Marine Radars
The radar technology has been advancing for a couple of decades now, which is why it is evident that you can find different types of radars in the market today to suit your boating needs. Although you can categorize radars in terms of different functions and features, mostly they are categorized into two primary categories;
Open-Array radar scanners are comprised of two parts; a radar pedestal that hosts all the scanner electronics and a radar antenna which is mounted on top of the pedestal. Due to their long antennas, they are capable of detecting weak targets and providing you with enhanced details of the tightly packed targets and shorelines. Since the antennas cover more range thus can detect long-range targets as well for better navigation.
· Enclosed Radome System
Enclosed Radome Scanners mostly possess the same features as the open-array scanners, but instead of having two different components, everything from the scanner electronics to the antennas to the drive mechanism is packed into a compact dome-shaped single component. These types of radars are popular among small boats since they are compact, lightweight and easy to use.
How do marine radars work?
The marine radar mostly consists of two units; a scanner unit and a display unit. The scanner unit houses the transceiver, whereas the display unit acts as a TV screen that displays the location of the target relative to the transmitting vessel.
The transceiver consists of the transmitter and the receiver. Unlike the fish finders, the Radar system uses radio pulses that travel at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, allowing it to process a vast amount of information within a short period of time.
The transmitter sends out the radio pulses in the 360-degree direction surrounding the transmitting direction. Once the pulses hit an object such as a landmass or another ship, an echo is created in the water. The radar system picks up on that echo to determine the exact location of the targeted object.
Similarly, when the pulses hit the target, some of them are reflected back towards the transmitting ship. The receiver in the scanner unit receives the reflected pulses to measure the distance between the target and the transmitting vessel.
Although the pulses make a complete round trip, only half of the time is required to measure the distance between the ship and the target. Since radio pulses travel at a near-constant speed, the radar system uses the time taken by the pulses to hit the target to determine the distance between the two.
The direction from which the echoes and the reflecting pulses hit the transmitting vessel helps determine the direction of the target. The radar is packed with different systems and features that make it possible for you to track the location of the objects that you can’t even see. In short, the radar system is like your electronic eye that sees everything and makes it possible for you to use the information to navigate safely to your desired location.
Benefits of using marine radar for fishing
Having a marine radar integrated on your boat comes with a number of navigating and fishing benefits which makes it a worthwhile investment. Let us look at the benefits that you can gain by using a marine radar.
· Navigate in darkness and fog
Quite often, bad weather conditions hit you in the middle of your fishing trips, making it impossible for you to navigate in the dark or when you are surrounded by fog. Since your actual eyes won’t be of much help here, the radar acts as your eyes and makes it possible for you to monitor the location of other objects surrounding your vessel.
· Collision avoidance
The primary function of the radar is to act as an anti-collision aid. Most radars are integrated with guard alarms that automatically alert you every time an object or target enters the radius surrounding your boat. You can either set it in the forward direction of your boat or you can set it at a 360-degree circle surrounding your boat. Every time a landmass, other boats or buoys enter the radius, an audible alarm with automatically go off to send the operator a signal to avoid a collision.
· Assess target movement
The Echo Trail feature integrated into the radar systems aids is assessing the true movements of the targets relative to the actual location of the user’s ship. You can use the radar to keep an eye on large fishes and the nearby vessels for enhanced navigational safety.
· Determine your own location
Most radar systems are quite powerful; thus, they can also help you determine your actual location by analyzing the echoes from the nearby landmarks. Landmasses, bridges, mountains, peninsulas and other landmarks can be used to locate your actual location as well.
· Navigate to a specific location
Fishermen tend to use the radar to navigate to their fishing spot. Although the remember the location but the currents and the wind can often throw them off course which is where the radar comes in and saves the day. You can mark your favorite fishing spot using the VRM and EBL to the nearest landmass or peninsulas.
· Receive radar beacon
If you are a regular fisherman or boater, you probably know about the radar beacon. It is common for individuals to get lost at sea due to fast winds and unfriendly currents. But with radar at your disposal, you can easily send signals out to the nearest radar beacon to determine your location and find your way back home.
Fishermen have adopted the idea of using radar scanners to locate fishing grounds and position their vessels at the right spot. Powerful radar scanners can help you locate the school of fishes, but most fishermen tend to locate specific sea birds which help them determine the location of their target species of fishes.
Essential Features of a Marine Radar
Just like all other electronics, marine radars are also packed a number of features. Some of those features are essential while the rest are just made-up stuff added by the manufacturer. The essential features of a marine radar are;
· Height of the Antenna
The height of the antenna is one of the most important factors that you need to consider before buying a radar as it is the main factor that determines the range of your visibility. This means that it controls how far you can see using your radar system. The more the height, the better but before you buy long-range antenna’s make sure to double-check it with the length of your mast!
The thumb rule here is; the more the power, the better the performance. Power determines your visibility factor. Powerful radars will allow you to see further and detect smaller objects. Mostly powerful radars range between 4kW to 25kW, but you can also find the ones with 2kW for smaller boats.
· Beam Width
Mostly radars come with the broadcast range from one to six. The narrower the beam width, the better it is, but you must consider the fact that it will restrict visibility in close quarters. Having a narrow beamwidth is an advantage as it allows you to easily differentiate between targets and receiver more accurate and precise bearings.
Radar systems come in two different technologies; the traditional pulse radar and the modern solid-state radar. Pulse radars generate microwaves using high powered magnetrons, whereas the solid-state radars use the Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave technology. Most users tend to prefer the modern solid-state radars as it is easy to use, install and is environment-friendly as well.
Best Marine Radars To Invest In 2019
There are plenty of great marine radars available in the market which often gets the buyer confused on which one to buy especially for the newbies who aren’t familiar with the radar lingo. So in order to help you out with your search, we have made up a list of the best marine radars available.
Furuno is one of the best manufacturers in the market when it comes to marine products and accessories and marine radars are no exception. This amazing Furuno 1715 is one of the best radars ever to be manufactured with its extraordinary features and design.
This Furuno 1715 is designed for occasional boaters and fishermen with small boats with its 7’’ Silver Bright LCD which is one of its distinct features. The LCD comes with high contrast graphics that allow it to display the echoes received in four different shades of gray. With the help of the narrower pulse lengths and dual IF bandwidths the targets are displayed in detail on the screen.
You can adjust the antenna rotation speed by adjusting your range and the rest will follow the course automatically. With the amazing ‘Watchman Mode’ you won’t have to sit and keep watch. The radar automatically sets off an audible alarm if a target enters the guard zone. Plus in the power saving mode, it automatically shuts off and functions after regular intervals.
Apart from the compelling features, it is packed with all the essential standard features as well such as the EBL, VRM, Echo Trail and etc. to make it easy for you to navigate through the sea during harsh weather conditions without colliding into nearby landmasses or vessels.
Compelling Reasons to Buy
- Power Saving Watchman Mode
- Dual bandwidth IF amplifier
- Guard Zone Alarm
- Variable antenna speeds
This Furuno 1715 LCD radar is packed with all the required features that you need to set off on a journey during unfavorable weather conditions. It is perfect for small fishing boats and pleasure crafts. With the watchman mode and the guard alarm system, you can easily save a ton of battery time and still remain alert at all times without having to sit in front of the monitor. The LCD display clearly displays the features, which makes it easy for you to interpret the data displayed.
SI-TEX's T-900 Series Radars are packed with the highly technical and advanced Hyper-Digital Processing and the SI-TEX T-941 is no exception. With the embedded technology the radome radar offers real-time rotation and enhanced target discrimination. In order to provide you with a clear image of the target, the system automatically cuts out the unwanted noise to focus on the targets in range.
The radar is packed with the dual-range function that allows you to detect targets both in short-range and long-range. The display provides a split-screen view where you can view the data from both the transceivers simultaneously. Plus the true-color feature makes it easy for you to interpret the data as each echo is displayed in different colors based on its signal strength.
The true trail function, Automatic Identification System, automatic tracking aid and the alarming zone alerts are some of the extra features that add to the value of this amazing SI-TEX T-941 radome radar. With its sleek design and built-in flush mounting system, you can easily put it in place without any hassle.
Compelling Reasons to Buy
- Easy to use and install
- Dual Range Radar Function
- Color LCD daylight viewable display
This amazing SI-TEX T-941 radome radar is one of a kind. With its compact shape and design, it is perfect for mounting almost anywhere on your small fishing boat. Plus it comes with all the essential features, the dual-range feature and the split-screen color LCD being the most important perks make it perfect for your personal to use.
The SI-TEX MDS-8R Radar Sensor is easy to use Radar that is compatible with your very own Windows PC already installed on your boat. You won’t need an additional display screen for this amazing radar as you can easily connect it via the Ethernet to your computer. The radar sensor acts as the transceiver while your PC screen acts as the radar display.
This means that you don’t need a Multifunction Display. Your PC screen will allow you to carry out a number of professional-grade features and if you wish to integrate some further features, you can always download the extra software for ARPA and radar/chart overlay and other features.
It is one of the most powerful radars ever manufactured by SI-TEX. The best thing about the radar sensor is that it is perfect for a number of vessels, from power vessels and recreational boats to racing yachts and fishing boats.
Compelling Reasons to Buy
- Easy to install and use
- Can be easily upgraded
- Room for additional professional-grade features
If you tend to keep your desk area as compact as possible with the lowest number of electronics, then this standalone radar sensor is one of the best options available in the market. You can connect it to your PC and run professional-grade features on your Windows-based computer screen. Plus you always have the option to upgrade the software to others provides powerful navigation functions.
The SI-TEX T-760 is a budgeted powerful radar system that is equipped with some serious professional-grade features. The compact radome radar comes with features like multi-speed antenna rotation, powerful 4kW output and the standard 10-target MARPA tracking function which makes it one of the top class radars available in the market.
The 18-inch antenna allows you to select the range between from 1/8th nm to 24nm along with accurate detection and presentation of targets with the help of the 4kW transmitters for solid performance. You can select the antenna range according to your needs as well.
Apart from the apparent features, the SI-TEX T-760 also offers features like Relative Motion, Head-Up, True Motion, North-Up, and Course-Up presentation modes along with the Auto or Manual Sea/Rain Clutter modes which makes it perfect for all kinds of boats and boating experiences.
Compelling Reasons to Buy
- 50-target AIS tracking capability
- Advanced Touch Screen Display
- Multi-speed antenna rotation
The SI-TEX T-760 is one of the best radar systems that one could install on his boat. It allows you to experience real-world boating experience with the luxury of safe navigation. You can easily adjust the antenna rotation speed and select the range to always stay on top of things. Apart from the apparent radar features mentioned above, the touch screen is a real advantage as it makes it easy for you to read and analyze the data displayed.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Radar
Boaters have several choices when it comes to investing in radar for their boating experiences. Boaters need to consider a few things to choose the best option from the many available. So let us look at the things that you need to ask yourself before buying a radar.
The very first thing that you need to consider is the usage. What are you going to use the radar for? If you are planning on using it only for navigational safety then less expensive radar would do, but if you want to fish at night through heavily trafficked waters or to pinpoint the location of the flock of birds to find the school of fishes, then you definitely need powerful radar.
. Frequency of operation
In order to figure out which radar will suit your needs the most, you need to determine how often you are going to use the radar on your boating endeavors. Fishermen and recreational boaters who like to hit the clear waters during fair weather conditions don’t really need a high-tech radar to navigate through the sea. However, individuals who tend to fish at night during harsh weather conditions definitely expect additional features from the radar as they are going to use it quite often to find their way to a definite location and back to the shore.
. Stand-alone or multi-function
Both stand-alone and multi-function radars come with their own set of benefits. Integrating a radar to your multi-functional navigating system allows you to add the features of the colorful radar system to your navigation system. Plus it also helps you save a lot of space. On the downside, you will have less control over the in-built features of the radar as compared to your control over a dedicated radar. Plus if the navigation system goes down, you will lose everything. So if you are a regular boater who uses the radar quite frequently, then it is best for you to invest in a stand-alone radar.
. Space Available
You might want a certain type of radar, but your needs and desires need to compromise with the space available. Whether you wish to go with open-array or dome style radar, the antenna needs to be mounted above other objects in order for it to be free of obstruction to work effectively. Thus the space that you have also is an important factor that helps you determine whether you should get an MFD or a Stand-alone radar.
Budget is another important factor that you need to consider before making an investment. A radar is most probably going to cost you $1000 and more depending on the features that it possesses. This clearly states that buying a radar isn’t cheap, so it is better to invest in the best radar that will suit your needs instead of investing in a low-cost one that will dissatisfy you within days. Plus investing twice in the same thing isn’t a smart choice. So make a rational one the very first time so that you don’t end up losing your money.
Over the last couple of years, marine radars are advanced a lot. Initially, they were used by professional boaters, but with the advancement in technology, they are now available for small scale fishermen and recreational boaters as well. The type of radar that you choose depends on your needs. It is important that you choose a radar that meets your needs; otherwise, it would be a total waste of money.
We all know that radars don’t come cheap so make sure that you read through the guide carefully, if you aren’t aware of the radar lingo, to make a rational and wise decision. Choose your perfect radar to navigate through the sea safely.
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